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How to Choose a Clinical Supervisor

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All right! You’re all set now with a professional job in the mental health or social work field, but the agency you work with doesn’t provide licensure clinical supervision. Or maybe you’ve decided to venture out on your own and start a private practice, or you joined a group practice that doesn’t offer clinical supervision. So now you’re stuck trying to find a clinical supervisor so you can work towards getting independently licensed to practice psychotherapy or social work. Where do you start to choose a clinical supervisor?

Research and Think it Out

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You want to make sure that you’re putting some thought and effort into who you’ll be working with as a clinical supervisor. Your supervisor is going to take on the role of educator, observer, mentor, coach, and overall general supporter of you throughout the next two (or more) years. So you want to make sure it’s going to be a good fit.

Supervision Training

One important thing to research prior to working with a clinical supervisor is, what is their training specifically in regards to clinical supervision? There are so many clinical supervisors out there who have zero formal training or classes in clinical supervision, yet who believe that since they are a good therapist they will be a good clinical supervisor. This may be true eventually, but there is no substitute for formal training in clinical supervision.

Experience as a Clinical Supervisor

You also want to look at someone who has actual experience providing clinical supervision. Perhaps you’re talking with a clinical supervisor who has just gone through 45 hours of formal clinical supervision training yet has no actual life experience providing clinical supervision. Again, there is no substitute here for experience, and experience in providing the service you’re seeking is important.

Getting their own Clinical Supervision

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One thing I’ve learning throughout my years as a therapist and clinical supervisor, is that you cannot provide good clinical supervision unless you’ve had good clinical supervision yourself. You may ask a potential supervisor candidate, are you getting your own clinical supervision? How often? What is your belief about clinical supervision as a life-long professional development strategy?

Clinical Fit with your Population

It’s important for your clinical supervisor to be familiar with and have experience in the population you’re working with. For example, if your primary client population is women with alcohol addiction, you want to make sure that your clinical supervisor has training, experience and ideally a certification/license in working specifically with addictions. Otherwise it will be difficult to learn about specific theoretical interventions that work best with your clients, or to effectively do case reviews/consultations.

Aligns with your Theoretical Orientation

Most clinical supervisors, by this point in their career, have utilized several different theoretical orientations in their own work as a counselor. And perhaps you’re still figuring out what theoretical approach works best with your style, your personality and your clients. But you do want to make sure that whatever theoretical approach you’re drawn to, your clinical supervision has familiarity with, otherwise there is going to be conflict when reviewing cases and providing clinical supervision.

Supportive and Consistent

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Finally, and this is the biggie, you want a supportive and consistent clinical supervisor. You’re going to experience some tough times as you’re working towards your license and you want someone fully in your corner, supporting you and being your biggest cheerleader throughout the process. You also want someone who is going to show up on time, every time your supervision is scheduled, and not constantly cancel or who is too busy to “fit you in”.

Whew! That’s a lot to look for when you’re choosing a clinical supervisor!

So make sure you’re interviewing potential supervisor candidates, asking questions that will get to the answers above, and that the fit seems right for you. Clinical supervision, if you’re paying for it on your own, is a big investment for sure. So you want to make sure it’s the right kind of investment by choosing a good clinical supervisor.


If you’re interested in learning about the clinical supervisors at Catalyss Counseling, we have 4 different supervisors to choose from who have a variety of clinical experience working in many different clinical settings. All of our supervisors have both training and experience in providing clinical supervision and all are supportive and consistent. Check out our supervisor bios here.

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about our Clinical Supervision and Clinical Consultation services with Catalyss Counseling, including our group and individual options, contact us at 303-578-6318.

We help therapists throughout Colorado further your professional growth and connect with others who are as passionate about this work as you are.

Author Biography

The owner of Catalyss Counseling, Shannon Heers, located in Englewood CO and serving all of Colorado through online therapy and in person counseling.

Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, guest blogger, and the owner of a group psychotherapy practice in the Denver area. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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